Category: Earthworks & Earth Resources

Win-Win Situation. Retrofitting Farm Dams to Increase Freeboard and Increase Wildlife Habitat and Productive Edge

The first thing I look for in a dam retrofit other than the spillway, is the freeboard. The freeboard is the height of the dam wall above the spillway. The freeboards presence is critical to the safety of the dam.  After looking at the spillway and the freeboard, I would look at the batters of the dam wall bot. inside and outside.  What degree slope are they?  Can you build […]

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Killer Natural Plaster Recipe

In this article I’m going to share with you my killer recipe for a final plaster that I have used and evolved over the last eight years. The final layer is what you will see day to day, so it’s worth making it nice. If you’re interested in a recipe that is non-toxic, made from easy to find natural materials and has a beautiful finish then read on. I first […]

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Texas Food Forest and the Results of Good Design.

Five years ago we moved to our current property in North Texas.  While the general area is not particularly challenging, the property itself was.  The three acre property has anywhere from 11 inches (28cm) to as little as 3 inches (7.6cm) of soil, sitting atop a limestone slab.  Note: not rocks but solid slab. An insane place to build a permaculture property but we set to making it happen. In our […]

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The Benefits of Creating Wetlands on Your Farm

Wetlands are some of the most important ecosystems on our planet harboring some of the highest rates of biodiversity in the world. They are fundamental for purifying the water we use and also for creating habitat for thousands of threatened species. Unfortunately, wetlands often get in the way of industrial development which has an unhealthy love affair with cement. For that reason, wetlands are often drained to make way for […]

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Check Dams and the Promise of Renewing Groundwater Springs

When my family and I moved onto our farm a couple of years ago, the small creek that ran through the bottom part of our land had been essentially abandoned for several decades. While we could hear the creek, it was all but impossible to make our way down to where the water actually ran due to a mess of vines, thorns, and thick underbrush. An invasive vine (similar to […]

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8 Tips for Starting your Tropical Homestead

You’ve just purchased your dream property in tropical Costa Rica. You want to grow your own food. You are anxious to get to work now, have bought some plants from a nursery you randomly drove by, and have a shovel in hand, but where to start? Most of our clients fall on either side of a spectrum of project implementation. Either they experience paralysis by analysis, overthinking every step, their […]

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Health Benefits of Natural Earthen Construction

Somehow or another, the modern day, industrial world in which we live convinced us that dirt is unclean, impure, and well…. dirty. We worry when we see our children headed for a mud puddle, we agonize when a mud footprint makes its way onto our kitchen floor, and we´ll gladly walk an extra couple strides on the sidewalk to avoid even a step or two through the dirt. The idea […]

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Storing Water in the Landscape: A Swales and Ponds Primer

Rain is one of the leading causes of soil erosion. The problem isn’t with rain itself, but rather with bad land management practices and farming practices that aren’t designed to take advantage of rainfall in a holistic manner. The best place to store water is in the landscape itself, and through the process of design, water can be effectively stored in the landscape for increased fertility, longer growing season, and […]

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The Transition from Swales to On Contour Hedges

One of permaculture´s most famed and acknowledged contributions to sustainable land management and ecologically sound agricultural practices are swales. From Australia to Finland to South Africa, thousands of permaculture practitioners from around the world have taken their laser levels, A-frame levels, and Bunyip water levels to map out the contour lines across the landscape that holds them. Once stakes have been placed across the contour lines across the land, either […]

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Closed-Loop Farming in Costa Rica

I woke up to the sound and smell of a chicken coop. It was a mild March morning in La Argentina, a small town on Costa Rica’s southeastern edge. I was staying on a small-scale, family farm of the gracious Señora Ana. Her farm, as with many of her neighbor’s, incorporates animal, vegetable, and fish production into a closed-loop system. Closed-loop farming is, in essence, the most primitive form of […]

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Why We Use Swales and How to Do It Appropriately

A swale is one of those permaculture terms that probably gets thrown around to readily (or inaccurately) and perhaps implemented irresponsibly. Only a few years into my permaculture career, I have certainly been guilty of this, and I have distinct memories of mistakes I made with regards to both attempting to construct swales and putting them in the wrong place. In my defense, and perhaps to my own credit, I […]

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The Low-Down on Double-Dig Gardens

The Low-Down on Double-Dig Gardens

I hear and read many people who are completely against double-digging, and to state this upfront, for those most part, I’m in complete agreement with their assessment. I am a believer in no-dig gardens. Even more so, I think being patient with our soil situations—planting what will grow and piling organic matter atop the soil to replenish the nutrient cycle—works. I’ve seen it work in dry situations, in clay situations, […]

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